Sandro Tonali enjoys special Italy visit as Newcastle star delivers heartfelt betting ban message

Sandro Tonali has revealed he considers himself 'lucky' despite being hit with a 10-month ban from football last year. The Newcastle United midfielder won't return in a competitive match until the end of August as he takes his punishment for breaching gambling rules.

As well as the hefty sanction dished out by the Italian Football Federation last year, the English Football Association hit Tonali with a suspended two-month ban for bets he placed after his £52m move to Newcastle last summer. The FA confirmed in its report the 24-year-old helped minimise his second punishment due to offering full cooperation and a sincere apology during the investigation.

Tonali looks as though he is continuing to give back as he spends time on the sidelines and this week visited a sports high school in the Italian city of Bari to speak with young footballers and students. During the visit, the Italian international offered advice to the youngsters, as well as talking about his regret over his gambling.

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“I was recently in a factory. I was able to reflect on those who work ten hours a day, just to bring home a salary," Tonali told the students, as quoted by Gazzetta dello Sport. "I understood many precious things.

"One above all: if a worker lost his job, his entire family would pay the consequences. Well, this is also why I consider myself lucky. I made a mistake, but I didn't lose anything.

“Hiding behind the barriers of a problem is never the solution. We need to talk about it instead. Get help. My true wealth is not million-dollar contracts, but being surrounded by people who love me and continue to prove it to me every day."

Tonali is working hard behind the scenes as he continues to train with Eddie Howe's senior group while he sits out of competitive action. The former AC Milan star is tackling his gambling addiction, which his agent described as an 'illness' last year.

Tonali has undertaken therapy sessions and is making great strides on the training pitch. All eyes turn to the summer as the marquee signing edges closer to his eagerly-awaited return.